Sitecore CMS (a brief delve)

Sitecore CMS overview

Sitecore CMS is a web content management system. It is used for:

eCommerce; marketing automation; testing and optimization; social media; eMarketing campaigns; documents.

  • It has an open API, which means it can be linked with your CRM, ERP or social media by using 3rd party plugins. This also means it can be customised.
  • Updated communities.
  • 24/7 phone support.
  • Customer experience management.
  • Designed to measure engagement – not just traffic
    • Goal conversion – uses engagement value points in order to maximise the site.
  • Data tracking – digital fingerprint (when a user searches).
  • Multi-site support (for 1000s of websites).
  • Compile customisable forms. Useability reports and integrate with CRM and ERP.
  • SEO – predefined vocabulary of SEO content, guidance on keywords.
  • Enterprise control – deploy, manage, integrate and secure
    • granular security capabilities and flexible.
  • Object based, dynamic – separating content from presentation.
  • Supports all languages including right-to-left and double byte character sets
    • Translations
      • Manually – using Sitecore translate mode – side by side authoring.
      • Automatically – using Google translate module.
      • Automatically – using a 3rd party plugin.

The Sitecore Launch pad

Go to mywebsite/sitecore and you’ll get the login page. Once logged in you will get the launch pad – the Sitecore dashboard.

At the top left there is the launch pad button – which always takes you back to the launch pad.

The far left set of icons are for analytics.

The next set of icons are for content. Author tools and media tools.

The next is for admin, account, control panel and desktop devs.

The last set are admin tools for users, to control permissions and to control domains.

Below the icons will be different charts.


There are two main content tools:

  1.  The experience editor
  2.  The content editor

The Sitecore Experience editor

The Sitecore Experience Editor is a wysiwyg editor that enables you to edit items as you see them on the page. This shows the site but with a ribbon on the top (which is extensible and customisable).

  • You can edit, preview and debug.
  • Navigate to different parts of the site:
    • Control + mouse click
    • Nav bar (Click nav bar in view tab (Breadcrumbs with drop downs).

How to insert a page using the Sitecore experience editor

  • Navigate to the Home tab, click the Insert Page button + Go.
  • In the dialog box, click the Story item and name the page + OK.

So now, Sitecore has:

  • Created a new site item,
  • Assigned an SEO friendly URL,
  • Created a breadcrumb trail.

Now the page is created we can edit it using ‘on page’ and ‘inline’ editing, from within the Sitecore experience editor.

Clicking in a text field activates the floating toolbar. Click the page icon in the floating toolbar.

Note: Devs can configure the editor using html profiles).

You can insert links (Sitecore links – select ‘Insert’)

How to Insert an image within Sitecore experience editor

  • Click the Page Image icon
  • in the floating toolbar select ‘choose an image’.
    – This opens the media library (you can change to the tree view).

View the page by clicking the Floppy Disc icon top left.

How to add a design functionality component to the page using Sitecore experience editor.

  • Hover and click a grey area within the page that you are creating – a floating toolbar will appear.
  • Click the placeholder icon ‘Add Here’.
  • In the ‘Select a Rendering’ dialog box
    • Select a component to add (This can be a widget, sub nav, bespoke component or a poll.), then press the ‘Select’ icon.
    • there is also an option to add an existing quote, search for content or create new content.
    • The content appears on the page and the toolbar now has different icons which will allow you to move or associate a content item with this component, test, or delete the component (This is related to design mode).
  • If you are doing this on a development site you can preview on ‘preview mode’ – found in the experience tab on the top ribbon:
    • Click ‘Other’ command and select ‘Preview’.
  • When finished, click the Square icon in the top left to go to the launch pad.

The Sitecore Content editor

The Content Editor is the primary User Interface. It is an editing tool used for managing and content in Sitecore. It is designed for more experienced Sitecore users.

  • You can edit all field on one page
  • Copy and duplicate pages
  • Switch between language and numbered versions
  • Validate items

In launchpad, click the Content Editor icon.

The Content Editor User Interface has three main areas:

  1. The ribbon (like Microsoft Office) – where all functionality is available
  2. The content tree (like Microsoft Explorer) – where items are organised (expanded / contracted)
  3. The content area – where you can edit your items

The ribbon

This is an ‘Office’ type ribbon (with more tools than the Experience Editor). It has a system menu (hamburger icon) and (usually) home and publish tabs as well as being able to configure tabs. An administrator will have the full set of privileges such as  Navigate, Review, Analyse, Versions, Configure, Presentation, Security, View, My toolbar.

The Content Tree is the site infrastructure. It can be expanded / contracted. It is where you edit items. Click an item and two tabs appear in the content area – the content tab and the search tab.

The content tab enables you to edit any of the item’s field values. The search tab lets you search through the selected item.

In the left side of the content tree – right-click:

  • We are presented with a quick action bar. (To change the tree).
    For items in workflow, you can often click a workflow command.
  • Select a workflow state – the tree structure changes.
  • Select the page you just created (the edit screen appears to the right).
  • In the dialog box, enter a comment (ie Ready for approval) + OK.

You can use the quick action bar to submit the page (mouse click on the workflow icon).

In the tab next to the content tab, click the ‘Q’ search tab. This is where you can search for anything within Sitecore. You can keep the search tab open whilst working on other pages if need be.

You can quickly go to a specific field on the page (ie Page Content, Promotion, Image, Title etc).

The next tab on the right is – Change to a different language. (Also the number of the version of  page).

The right-most edge is the validation bar which helps to validate the page to W3C guidelines.

The Sitecore Work Box App

The Sitecore Work Box App is found in the content editor, bottom left tab.

The Work Box controls all the workflows on the site (ie sample workflow, social message workflow).


Personalise your site with Sitecore

Within Sitecore you can manage two types of user personalisation:

A) Explicit Personalisation (stated clearly – ie PPC),
B) Implicit Personalisation (suggested though not directly expressed – ie changing content based on user interaction and user search terms).

A) A PPC campaign using Sitecore (Explicit Personalisation)

Set up the Pay Per Click Search term ‘Cycling Holiday’ using the usual Google Adwords tool.

The advert URL will link to a campaign based keyword personalised home page. The URL will be a special campaign URL. This means that the campaign can change and you can change the campaign URL. It still points to the home page but the content can differ per campaign. If you click the home page you can be directed to the standard non campaign home page.

B) Predicated Personalisation using Sitecore (Implicit Personalisation)

This is where a profile of each visitors actions within the website can be monitored. The website can change what the user views, based on the users behaviour. This profile changes every time the user clicks. So for example, if they click in the search bar and search for a particular term, the site can be altered to cater more strongly towards that term – helping the user to find the information they require.

EG.
If they have an interest in mountain biking and click on a story, search of product, when the user goes back to the homepage the banner can change to show mountain bikes for sale.


Sitecore Items

Sitecore Items are the basic building blocks of a Sitecore website. An Item can represent any page element – text, a media file, a layout, etc.

An Item has a unique ID and it is based on a template that defines which field the item contains. Items can have multiple languages and versions.

In Content Editor, all Items are stored in the content tree, which is where you can navigate to a specific item in the hierarchy. Items have relationships with other items in a similar way to the DOM tree –

  • Parent – Item directly above the Item
  • Sibling – At the same level
  • Subitem – Directly below the Item
  • Ancestor – All items above the Item
  • Descendant – All items that descend from the Item

You can edit, create and insert Items using the Content Editor.

Note: In the Experience Editor, Items are displayed as they look on the website. You can edit them directly.

To edit Items in either editor, the Item must be in the editing state. An Item can be lock by you, so that only you can edit the Item at that time.

Create a new Item in the Content Editor

First, select an existing Item in the content tree to indicate where you want the new Item to be located. It can be a sibling or subitem.

To insert a sibling item:

  • Navigate to the location on the content tree and click the home tab
  • In the Insert group, click the drop down arrow and in the Insert a new sibling section, select the item that you want to insert.

To insert a subitem to the selected item:

  • Go to the Home tab, in the Insert group, use the up and down arrows to find and select the type you want to use
  • Enter the name of the new item and click OK.

Alternatively, right-click the item in the content tree, click Insert and click one of the suggested types; enter the new name.

Every new item created automatically locks and opens in the content editor.

You can create new items from templates. Use the above steps but in the home > Insert group, select insert from template. In the resulting dialog box, find the template that you want to base the new item on. Again, alternatively you can right-click from the content tree.

You can create new items using the Experience Editor. Navigate to the page, in the Home tab, select Insert page and follow the steps above.

The item is created on the page, which is then editable.


How to copy or duplicate an Item

  1. In the content tree, select the Item you can to copy
  2. Right click, click Copying, the Copy to
  3. (OR) In the Home tab (operations group), click Copy to
  4. In  the Copy to dialog box, select the location.
    Note: Navigate to the location through the content tree on the Browse tab, or search for the location in the search tab.
  5. Click Copy to create a copy in the specified location.

You can now edit the new Item, add sub item, or move the Item to another location.

Copying an Item copies the selected Item and all of its content and subitems to a location in the content tree.

You can duplicate an Item using the same steps above.

Duplicating Items is the same as copying but it copies the selected item and all of its content and subitems to the same location in the content tree.


You there you go, now that you know the basics why don’t you go ahead and use it for your next CMB solution. After all it’s only £40-70,000! 🙂